New Conference: Economic Justice Summit, March 30-31, 2023, Georgetown University Law Center, The Sarah and Bernard Gewirz Student Center, Register.
The theme for CRSJ’s 22-23 Bar Year is economic justice, as we understand it is fundamental to civil rights and social justice. Our two-day Summit will cover issues including guaranteed income, taxes and debt, housing, and the racial wealth gap. During the Summit, we aim to convene lawyers, activists, policymakers, and key stakeholders to formulate policy solutions to our country’s most critical economic disparities and devise strategies to implement such policy solutions.
New Podcast: The Daily by Sabrina Tavernise, Why Fewer American Children Are Living in Poverty, NY Times (September 26, 2022).
The high poverty rate among children was long seen as an enduring fact of American life. But a recent analysis has shown that the number of young people growing up poor has fallen dramatically in the past few decades.
The reasons for the improvement are complicated, but they have their roots in a network of programs and support shaped by years of political conflict and compromise.
Child poverty in the United States has fallen 59 percent since 1993, a new analysis showed.
Few states have experienced larger declines in child poverty than West Virginia. One family’s story illustrates the real-life impact that an expanded safety net has provided to millions across America.
New Article: Ezra Rosser, Affirmatively Resisting, 50 Florida State University Law Review (forthcoming 2022). Abstract below:
This Article argues that administrative processes, in particular rulemaking’s notice-and-comment requirement, enable local institutions to fight back against federal deregulatory efforts. Federalism all the way down means that state and local officials can dissent from within when challenging federal action. Drawing upon the ways in which localities, states, public housing authorities, and fair housing nonprofits resisted the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back federal fair housing enforcement, the Article shows how uncooperative federalism works in practice.
Despite the fact that the 1968 Fair Housing Act requires that the federal government affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH), the requirement was largely ignored until the Obama Administration promulgated a new AFFH rule in 2015 that pushed state and local governments to take desegregation seriously. Not surprisingly, the Trump Administration sought to undermine this new rule. But what was surprising was the vigorous resistance the Trump Administration faced from state and local governments seeking to preserve the 2015 rule. Though theories of uncooperative federalism and of administrative federalism abound, there are relatively few examples of how uncooperative federalism facilitates and channels resistance all the way down. State and local government bodies, including sub-local entities such as public housing authorities, leveraged their insider status in order to push back against the Trump Administration’s deregulatory move.
Given the increased polarization of the country and the reach of cooperative federalism to all levels of government, such affirmative resistance has broad implications when it comes to federal policymaking and federal-state-local relations. Federalism extends points of resistance downward from federal agencies to states and local government bodies. Ultimately, when it comes to the future of fair housing and the significance of internal resistance to federal backsliding when it comes to federal obligations associated with agency oversight of federal-state and federal-local programs, there are reasons for both pessimism and cautious optimism. Uncooperative federalism creates space for state and local governments to defend policies, to insist that federal agencies live up to their statutory obligations, and to resist federal backsliding.
New Article: Aatish Bhatia, Josh Katz, Claire Cain Miller, and Francesca Paris, Vast New Study Shows a Key to Reducing Poverty: More Friendships Between Rich and Poor, NYT (August 1, 2022). Excerpt below:
Over the last four decades, the financial circumstances into which children have been born have increasingly determined where they have ended up as adults. But an expansive new study, based on billions of social media connections, has uncovered a powerful exception to that pattern that helps explain why certain places offer a path out of poverty.
For poor children, living in an area where people have more friendships that cut across class lines significantly increases how much they earn in adulthood, the new research found.
New Report: Andrew Aurand, Matthew Clarke, Dan Emmanuel, Emma Foley, Ikra Rafi, and Diane Yentel, Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing, (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2022).
New Article: Sarah Nzau and Richard V. Reeves, Poverty hurts the boys the most: Inequality at the intersection of class and gender, Brookings (June 14, 2021). Excerpt below:
One of the cognitive curses of the human mind is the tendency to chop everything into two: black and white, rich and poor, men and women, North and South, and so on. By instinct, we tend to lump people together into clear and distinct categories, preferably just two. The world seems simpler that way.
But of course, the world is not simple. People are not sorted into neat boxes. One unfortunate consequence of this binary worldview is what public health expert and “factfulness” advocate Hans Rosling calls the “gap instinct…to divide all kinds of things into two distinct and often conflicting groups with an imagined gap in-between (e.g., rich vs poor countries).”
Article: Joel Anderson and Olivia Chan, Cultivating Resilience in Indian Country: An Assessment of COVID-19’s Impact on Tribal Food Systems, Congressional Hunger Center (2020-2021). Excerpt below:
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many Native American communities and food producers hard. Despite current and longstanding challenges in Indian Country, many Native advocates, organizations, and food businesses have worked to address hunger and promote food sovereignty and entrepreneurship in their communities, and nationwide. This report reviews the impact of the pandemic on food production, distribution, and security in Indian Country. It looks towards solutions to address short- and long-term needs to ensure Tribal sovereignty, food system resiliency, and the health and welfare of all Native people.
New Article: Lucy Tompkins, If Housing Is a Health Care Issue, Should Medicaid Pay the Rent?, N.Y. Times (June 14, 2022). Excerpt below:
Living on the streets, Hanif Hightower learned which Philadelphia shelters were likely to have an open bed during the cold months or where he could get a meal or a hot shower. But his resourcefulness had limits. Addicted to crack cocaine and struggling with clinical depression, he cycled in and out of jail and temporary rehab programs, returning to the streets each time he was released. Years passed this way. Then one day, in May 2019, an outreach worker for a local nonprofit offered him a way out: an apartment of his own, no strings attached.
Hightower, who is now 39, was on a list he didn’t know existed: the homeless people in Philadelphia most frequently found in the city’s shelters or jail cells. Being on this list made Hightower eligible for something called supportive housing, which combines services like counseling and job training with keys to a home.
For decades, research has shown that this combination of housing and services is the most effective way to provide for people experiencing chronic homelessness, who make up about a quarter of the nation’s homeless population and have the most acute needs. People are considered chronically homeless if they have a documented disability — including mental illness or addiction — and have been without housing for at least a year. Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama put money into creating more supportive-housing beds, and since 2007, when the government started keeping track, the number nationwide has more than doubled. Between 2007 and 2016, chronic homelessness declined by a third.
New Article: Micheal Kimmelman and Lucy Tompkins, How Houston Moved 25,000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own, N.Y. Times (June 14, 2022). Excerpt below:
One steamy morning last July, Ana Rausch commandeered a shady corner of a parking lot on the northwest side of Houston. Downing a jumbo iced coffee, she issued brisk orders to a dozen outreach workers toting iPads. Her attention was fixed on a highway underpass nearby, where a handful of people were living in tents and cardboard lean-tos. As a vice president of Houston’s Coalition for the Homeless, Ms. Rausch was there to move them out.
New Article: Hannah M. Dahle, Creating Oases Throughout America’s Food Deserts, 47 BYU L. Rev. 287 (2021). Introduction below:
A food desert is an area or region of the United States that features a large proportion of households with lower income, inadequate access to transportation, and limited food retailers to provide fresh produce to consumers. Though food deserts are often unheard of by communities with access to food and other retail opportunities, these food deserts appear disproportionately in low-income minority communities—not just areas with low income. While many grocers open shop on every corner in most mid- to high-income neighborhoods, food deserts leave low-income minority communities lacking in resources. For many minorities, where they live is not so much about location preference as it is about affordability. Food deserts are often hidden because of the belief that Americans choose where they live. In most cases, there is a causal connection between affordability of homes and the now-illegal zoning and redlining actions of the past. Even before the use of redlining by local governments, minorities did not get a seat at the table in rich, up-and-coming neighborhoods, and continually lost out on all kinds of retail opportunities. Although the Fair Housing Act of 1968 sought to eliminate housing discrimination based on race, color, sex, religious beliefs, and other classes of identification, discrimination caused by zoning and redlining pushed these protected groups farther from access to fresh food. In turn, this lack of food access divided and continues to divide groups of people—creating even more of a disparity between races. Now, at federal and state levels, the government is seeking to repair the dry spells within food deserts that leave many minority communities without access to find and eat nutritious food.
This Note argues that food deserts are a remnant of housing segregation based on race and, as such, continue to create racial, economic, and health disparities. Although the United States has started to remedy these actions, the country can still do more by unifying its actions and spreading out its aid. Part I addresses what a food desert is, the power of food, and the impacts that come from living in food deserts around the country. Part II addresses the causes of food deserts—zoning and redlining—and how the Fair Housing Act initiated change, but how it could not undo what had already occurred. Part III addresses what the country has done at federal and state levels to eliminate and mitigate food deserts, and how the country can continue to remedy them.